Kilburn & company

Work progresses on what I have been calling the ‘Kilburn Portfolio’. More proofs of the blocks have yielded more signatures, proving that the collection of blocks really is a mixed bag of work by different hands. The engravers that I have identified, or at least assigned attribution, seem to be from Boston or New England. It may be after the portfolio is pubished, others will be able to identify the makers. Of course, I’ll be marketing the work amongst New England institutions and libraries.

But back to production. I’ve cut Fabriano Accadema paper for the prints and am ready to produce the dummy, including a pamphlet which will contain a short essay on how the collecton came to light and what (little) is known about the blocks to date.

There’s a monogram that very likely belongs to Abel Bowen, Kilburn’s master, and another block is signed Matthews, a Boston wood engraver who spent a brief period of time in Montreal, the only Canadian connection so far.

This week I will begin to produce the plates. Some of the blocks are very straightforward — quite remarkable when one considers that they are well over 100 years old. Others did not age so well, and printing these warped blocks will be a challenge. It will require an enormous amount of ‘make-ready’ or custom setting the press to print one specific block. It is very. very fussy work and in the end, it achieves evenness of impression, but it cannot replace cracks and lines caused by composite blocks separating. This can really be heart-breaking work sometimes, but the benefits far outweigh the heart-breaks, in the end.

I received my second cheque from another institution for books on Thursday. Gotta love that!

Explore posts in the same categories: Block Printing, Wood Engraving

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